League of Legends: Z for Zyra
By Jason Harper (Hhean), OnRPG League Writer
Zyra is a mage with a variety of plant themed tools at her disposal. She has both burst, and sustained damage, with good utility and even some map control. While she looks complex at first, her basic game is quite easy to get to grips with. As with most mages, she’s best suited to go mid, though she also is a surprisingly strong jungler for a mage. Brand or Yorick players will likely take well to Zyra, as her seed combos work in a similar way to the former’s Blaze passive, and her plants can be used in a manner not dissimilar to the latter’s Ghouls.
Probably the best AP jungler in the game. Still will lose to most top jungle picks though.
Good scouting power, giving her a safer lane
Very good attack animation for a mage
Good amount of utility (3 crowd control abilities)
Plants make her harass very strong in the lane
Good kiting power against melee enemies
Her ultimate is massive
Damage from plants can be unreliable
Once summoned, there’s no way to stop a plant from pushing your lane
Has some mana issues early on
No escapes (Not unusual for a mage)
Ultimate is close range
Her passive, while hilarious, is not great
Deadly Bloom [Q]: Small AoE nuke with a small delay. If this hits a seed, it will grow into a Thorn Spitter plant. These are long range stationary pets that will prioritize champions or whatever Zyra is attacking. Very easy to use Rampant Growth immediately after this for free comboing potential.
Rampant Growth [W]: Puts a seed on the ground. If hit by a spell, these seeds will grow into a plant. If an enemy stands on a seed, it will explode, revealing them for a short while. While the seeds remain on the ground, they grant vision around them (They grant about as much visibility as a Teemo mushroom). The seeds cost no mana, but rely on an ammo system to use. You can carry around up to two seed stacks at a time. The passive cooldown reduction on this ability applies to all of her kit, and maxes out at 20%, ultimately allowing her to need only one cooldown item to hit the cap.
Grasping Roots [E]: Linear skillshot that will root everything it passes through. Will turn any seed it hits into a Vine Lasher plant. These are close range stationary pets with a slow that will prioritize champions or whatever Zyra is attacking. Due to its mediocre range, it’s best used to stop approaching enemies rather than to kick off fights, but can be used well as a ganking tool while jungling.
Stranglethorns [R]: Giant AoE nuke that knocks targets airborne, and increases the attack speed of any plants caught in it. It’s a pretty standard ultimate, useful for bursting the enemy team during a teamfight. It’s important to try to catch at least one plant in the blast, as the sustained damage the buffed plants deal can be brutal. Due to its long windup time her ultimate works well as a follow-up to a good initiation, rather than acting as initiation itself.
Rise of the Thorns [Passive]: When Zyra dies, she can hit enemies with one last skillshot. Given it hits for true damage, this will hit hard regardless of any other factors. Doesn’t scale in any way except for champion level, so you can’t itemize in any way to make it more useful, unlike Anivia’s passive.
Combos & Shenanigans
All of Zyra’s abilities have a short windup time before they hit their target, so you can quickly drop a seed into one of your other abilities before they actually trigger. Of all her abilities, her ultimate has the longest wind up time, allowing you to cast it, then immediately cast Deadly Bloom and drop a seed just before her ultimate triggers, giving you an instantly buffed plant.
Using smart cast to quickly cast Rampant Growth just after you’ve cast Deadly Bloom in the exact same spot is very easy to do, and makes for some excellent harass in the early game. Doing this combo just behind the enemy caster minions will not only hit like a truck, but also prevent them from getting anywhere near your minions to last hit, denying them loads of farm. The only drawback to this trick is the AoE and the plant’s constant auto-attacks will push out your lane, so you have to keep yourself warded, or use this trick sparingly.
If a bruiser is planning on ripping you a new hole, then you need to make use of her other main combination. Dropping a seed right in their path as they approach before immediately casting Grasping Roots will not only snare them, but also allow the newly grown Vine Lasher to slow them as they’re forced to run past it. If you’re really scared of getting chased down, this can optionally be combined with a use of her ultimate. Using the ultimate just after they’re snared will guarantee they’re knocked airborne, and they will have to deal with the now enhanced Lasher ripping them to bits as they try to advance. With all the extra time this buys, you can then follow with yet another round of Grasping Roots, and another seed. This is harder to land when targeted or even skill-shot based gap closers get involved, but if the enemy moves in a predictable manner, they can still be kept at bay. Simply drop the seed right at Zyra’s feet as they dash in.
Zyra’s Thorn Spitter plants have a very long attack range, so abuse this if you’re low on health and skirting the edge of a larger team fight. Simply place her seeds, hit them with Deadly Bloom and stay well away from your enemies. You can now be a full screen away from your foes, and still contribute somewhat to an ongoing fight, even when getting in range with your normal spells would be far too risky.
Jungling with Zyra is going to feel familiar to anyone who used pet-based junglers in Dota. She’s utterly useless at level 1, but once she’s hit her second level, she can leash for her plants before they start soaking up damage. Walling off camps to make it harder for the creeps to get at her is also a very effective trick. When invading, she has the unique ability to fight Golem from the friendly side of her wall, leashing it without having to move an inch. She does need two seeds stacked up to do this effectively, and not risk a reset on Golem, but it’s a safe form of invasion that compensates for her lack of an escape. Her ganks can be deadly if she makes use of her Grasping Roots and Stranglethorns effectively, but it does mean she’s entirely reliant on a single skillshot in the early levels. A single juke will shut her down. If the enemy actually comes into her jungle, she’s going to have a lot of problems, which is where she’s going to come up short compared to most junglers. If Trundle decides he wants to fight her, she can do nothing but run or die. She’s also extremely blue reliant, making her very easy to catch with a full 5 man invasion right at the start of the match. These weaknesses are nowhere near as bad as other AP junglers though, and she will make a good jungle pick for specific team compositions.
Even if she isn’t going to fully jungle, once you’re around level 3 she can easily clear camps from her lane, and can even steal the enemy’s blue quite easily if her lane opponent is dead or roaming.
I don’t like Zyra. I don’t like the way she looks, or the way she sounds. However, I can’t deny that she’s not only effective, but also has a good pace to her abilities. She flows very well, with her ability delays actually feeling like a strength, rather than a weakness. Subjectively, I hate her tired ‘Deadly Seductress’ routine that’s now being used on somewhere close to half the female cast, but objectively I can’t deny that she’s looking like a good character.
Her strength is definitely in the laning phase, where her plants turn her into the mage version of Yorick. Late game she doesn’t quite have the burst of other mages, but she can do very well in prolonged engagements, provided she isn’t instantly focused down. Her map control can also make her a good solo queue choice simply because her seeds can be used in place of wards if your support isn’t doing their job properly.
She’s looking very strong. She may be worth picking up now before the community works out some ways around her, or Riot outright nerf her. My gut reaction on her is she’s going to be a flash in the pan character that seems strong for a while, before fading off into obscurity. That may be my own bias against her incredibly dull personality showing through though.
To discuss Zyra yourselves, post in the massive League of Legends thread in the free to play MMOs section, or post in the comments section below. If you haven’t tried League of Legends yet, you’re missing out.